Friday, August 19, 2011

Return the term “Royal” to our fighting units

To ask someone, usually a youthful someone, to lay down his or her life for a cause, is not something to be done lightly. And, centuries ago, military organizations discovered it took a great deal more to motivate an ordinary person to do an extraordinary thing, which might include their death, than just ordering that person to do it.

Armed forces down through the ages and across the globe have believed in symbols like flags and medals, and have organized themselves in cohesive fighting units like regiments and have played up each unit’s history and traditions. All those things have given men, and an increasing number of women, something “more” to die for than an order from a superior. From time immemorial, fighting men have died for the honour and the glory of their regiments, their ships and their air squadrons. Symbols are part of what have made this so.

And because of their preparedness to die, we live free.

Why then begrudge them a simple name-change that returns the term “Royal” to their fighting units? It’s a gift even New Democrats can afford.



© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.


  1. As far as I know, most of the fighting regiments never lost their "Royal" designation. There are the regular army's Royal Canadian Regiment, Royal 22nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery and Royal Canadian Horse Artillery units. Many reserve regiments have the designation too.


  2. For my 89 year old veteran father who in 68 was devestated but stayed the course, he has lived to see his RCAF returned to him. It is even more personal to him as he lost his brother during WWII "...he was in the RCAF..." Its the tradition that makes the Forces, its their "badge".
    I am thankful our Government did this for "my" father in his lifetime, no amount of thanks will cover the feelings in our family this week...thank you Peter thank you Stephen, and thank you to those who know what it truly means and no its not about the Queen!!

  3. In this case, Anon 2:14 PM, I meant "fighting unit" in the broader sense, i.e., navy and air force.

  4. I can imagine how he felt, I too served in the RCAF and remember "unification" as a proverbial slap in the face and insult to all who then served in our proud army, navy and air force.

  5. I joined the Cdn Army 54 years ago to-day as a 16 year old soldier Apprentice in the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, RCEME for short. I spent 13 years in the reg force and 5 years in the reserves. The government took away the RC in our title and then took away our distinct cap badge. They finally brought back the cap badge with the horse but the badge says EME/GEM, the later being the French equivalent.I would like to see our old name restored and I am not a monarchist.

  6. I'm glad to see the return to the RCAF and RCN. I always considered myself to be a member of the RCAF regardless of what Hellyer thought, and was faintly ashamed of the green busdrivers suit we were forced into wearing.

  7. Albertaguy, too many Canadians have too little appreciation of what it's like to bear arms knowing that someday you could be called upon to give up your life. Paul Hellyer, former Minister of Defense, was a soldier, but never seemed to have got it either.

    Those were dark days when the Trudeau and Mulroney governments gutted our services following the stripping away of decades of tradition by Hellyer. But we Canadians allowed it to happen--we all must bear a little of the shame.

    Rear Admiral Jeffry Brock, DSO, DSC, CD, RCN, was serving as Vice Chief of Naval Staff in Ottawa in the early 1960s when he was forced to retire over his opposition to unification. He wrote:

    "Canadian politicians are not and never have been interested in defence … the Canadian public cannot escape a share of the blame. Too many of our people think that all we enjoy was always there, was not fought for, will just continue, without our personal attention. We are no longer pulling our weight in international affairs. While some reasonable degree of freedom still remains for us under our form of government, we must face the fact that this freedom will soon disappear unless we exercise our rights wisely. We must take greater pains to ensure that we are well enough informed to choose wise leaders - perhaps, great leaders."

  8. The impression I get is that those people who have served in Canada's military or support the Armed Forces are not the ones complaining, or am I wrong?

    The NDP criticizing this name change is no surprise. They are the party that only "supports" our troops when they are at home. Not what the Armed Forces is about, not that the NDP would understand.

  9. renegade tory,

    I believe that, in general, your impression is correct.